As Stroud Micro Dairy at Oakbrook Community Farm demonstrates, micro dairies (generally less than 40 cows) can play an important role in the supply of local produce and the reconnection of community and land. For those interested in developing something similar as part of creating more resilient local food systems, a new opportunity has arisen in Dorset.
Following the closure of a large intensive dairy farm on the Chettle Estate, Alice Favre, the owner, is seeking a forward-thinking and passionate farmer to establish a micro dairy to produce milk and dairy products for the village and local area.
The Chettle Estate consists of nearly 900 acres of arable and pasture land including 60 acres of woodland. It has a village shop, a restaurant with eight rooms (the Castleman Hotel) and 33 dwellings. There are 55 acres of land available, arranged in seven parcels of between three and 22 acres. The land is Grade 3 with free draining, shallow, lime rich soils over chalk, gently sloping mostly from north to south. There are also a number of buildings and yard requiring regeneration.
Chettle Store currently sells 50 litres a week of refillable milk in the shop at £1.20 a litre for non-organic milk. It also sells another 100-150 litres of milk per week in plastic bottles (some organic, some not). The Castleman Hotel & Restaurant could also buy milk direct from the dairy. It generally sells 200-250 dinners a week plus around 50 breakfasts.
The Estate would like to invite proposals for how the land and buildings could be used to produce milk and dairy products for local markets.
Broad criteria for the micro-dairy business include that it should:
- be based on organic or regenerative farming techniques with a high standard of animal welfare;
- make use of the existing buildings as far as possible (as opposed to new build);
- not use any more building space or land than necessary;
- work as a self-contained coherent unit, but could have synergies with adjoining arable and livestock farms;
- be capable of working alongside other potential users of buildings on site;
- be compliant with pollution control regulations and minimise the need for dirty water handling infrastructure;
- sell as much produce as possible through Chettle Store and The Castleman.
The environment is one of Alice’s main passions. So it’s essential that through her work on the Estate and, for the future of the Chettle community, any new projects must address the environment, social and economic issues together.
Could this be an opportunity for another community connected biodynamic micro dairy? For more information the invitation is available here.
Operations Manager, Biodynamic Land Trust